In response to a request that the denomination keep an immigration attorney on retainer for Christian Reformed congregations and pastors who need help with immigration matters, Synod 2019 instead pointed to ongoing work of enfolding immigrant churches and asked the executive director “to identify and communicate appropriate legal and financial resources to assist churches and classes.”
Classis Hackensack had asked for the lawyer as well as to budget $50,000 for immigration legal assistance, but synod said identifying appropriate help in each local context will be better overall.
“One central lawyer may not really be equipped to help in all the regions,” said Chad Vandervalk, Classis B.C. South-East.
Petr Kornilov, Classis Hackensack, said he thinks the denomination is somehow missing what this is about. “We need the denomination to be for us … it’s not about shifting the cost, it’s about understanding the complexities. We need help.”
Kornilov said what synod agreed to do (identify and communicate appropriate legal and financial resources) “ends up being a webpage. I know how this works.”
Andy Hanson, California South, said welcoming immigrant pastors into our fellowship “means more than just saying ‘welcome’ when they knock on our door.” He said it’s good the CRC is “broadening the tent” and it needs to be supported with resources. “Immigrants are making sacrifices to join us. We don’t want them to be the only ones making sacrifices.”
Vandervalk said, “We want to support these churches as much as we can, but the emphasis should be to try local first.” He also said the Financial Shalom Project, a grant program that has been identified in the past as being a resource to help immigrating pastors needing assistance, has more money than applicants. (See Funds to Assist Immigrant Churches Found, from Synod 2018)
Synod 2019 is meeting at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., from June 14-20. For continuous coverage from our award-winning news team, download the Banner app on your mobile device or follow The Banner Magazine on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted on The Banner’s dedicated Synod web page several times daily. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.